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Juan Luis Mayén: Illustrator and digital sculptor interview


By 3dtotal staff


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Date Added: 4th March 2015

Juan Luis Mayén's January gallery entry earned 594 points, and won a 3D Concept Art contest! Find out more about this multi-talented artist...


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3dtotal: Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
Juan Luis Mayén: My name is Juan Luis Mayén, and I am an architect, illustrator and digital sculptor based in Córdoba (Spain). As an architect, I finished my studies in 2009, and in 2012 I co-founded my architecture studio MAYEN Taller de Arquitectura, together with my brother.


In addition, together with my girlfriend, we founded our own art doll studio, Sephie Doll Shop, where we make ball-jointed dolls, doing the complete process by ourselves (using ZBrush for modeling and 3D printing the prototypes).

I'm also now working on a board game, where they require me to sculpt some miniatures to be 3D printed, among
other projects.

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Warg - Lord of the Rings fanart

About 3D and digital art in general, I started using 3ds Max after a course I did back in 2004, as I was impressed by some character and architecture images I found on some websites. That course was focused mainly on architectural visualization, but I also started to model some characters by the old box-modeling system.

I've been interested in art since I could pick up a pencil, and this has been my life's passion. I love to paint in any media, to sculpt and to use the computer to do so. I like a lot the processes (sometimes I prefer the WIP images rather than the finished ones). I also love to make 2D digital paintings, and to experiment with new tools and brushes. I finished my official Illustration studies in 2014.

3dt: What are your artistic ambitions?
JLM: For (digital) art, I'm able to work as a freelance for different projects. My preferred projects are those related to characters and creatures, with these my own designs or given concepts.

On the other hand, as architect and related to 3D, I like to represent environments but focused on a main building. I would like to work for bigger projects as a character or environment modeler/sculptor.

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Sephie Doll Shop - Here you can see a little about the doll creation process, beginning with ZBrush and then, after 3D printing, we make molds and get resin castings of our dolls

3dt: Tell us the story behind your recent gallery entry: What inspired you to create it?
JLM: This image was done for a contest held at 3D Concept Art, where we had to design a creature (Corfos) or a Humanoid (Athalons). There was an open brief for the design, so we were able to free our creativity. I was inspired by bugs and insects, as well as by birds, that I think are stunning creatures. I made a hybrid with some references, but always looking for the logic in the design – I think it is crucial in creature design. Finally, I achieved the First Prize in the contest, so I'm really happy about this!

3dt: Did you face any difficulties when creating this image, and how did you overcome them?
JLM: Yes! First of all, I noticed the challenge very late, so I had to hurry with the concepting phase. I was not really clear on what direction to take the creature, so I did some tests until I was happy with my design. Finally, I opted for a creature that showed power, strength and fierceness, as well as speed; always taking into account the credibility and logic of my design.

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The Toad King and Sir Hortaliza Man

3dt: What software did you use and do you have any tips for using this software, or any other software that you use to create your art in general?
JLM: I used ZBrush for the modeling/sculpting (is there a difference nowadays?) and painting phase, and KeyShot for the rendering. The creature was posed using ZSpheres rig, which I discovered recently and it's great and I highly recommend this method.

For tips, I started learning ZBrush on my own some years ago in my spare time – using ZClassrooms was the key for me. Also, I watched some YouTube tutorials for some specific things (like the ZSpheres rig, for example). My main advice is to be consistent and patient: I see many artists' work which is really above my level, but if we spend time on this, we will arrive there.

3dt: Would you consider yourself to have a particular signature style, or techniques that you use often?
JLM: Well, I don't consider myself to have a specific style, but I can say that I love to make 'ugly' creatures and monsters. I also like to make cartoon characters, and now with the dolls I'm in a new field. About technique, my current method is to make everything from a Dynamesh sphere. I think this technique has changed the workflow completely, and many people do that. Also, when I have to make something with well pre-defined proportions, I start with ZSpheres.

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Old Man speedsculpt - Concept by Ed Binkley shown in the Sketching from the Imagination: Fantasy book

3dt: What software would you like to learn in the future to expand your portfolio and skillset, and why?
JLM: I'd like to learn Maya, because I've never touched that and I see it's a powerful software. I'd like to put more time into improving my lighting skills, which I think is one of the most important things to succeed with a 3D image.

3dt: Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?
JLM: I have many to mention, and from some of them I'm learning a lot. I can say as a small sample: Jose Alves da Silva
(with his really well finished cartoons); Rafael Grassetti (anatomy master, and one of the best I know in digital sculpting); Jakub Rózalski (one of the greatest digital 2D painters I know); Danny Williams (aka Pointpusher, great characters); Scibor Teleszynski (great traditional sculptor); and Michael Kutsche (amazing concept designs for characters).

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Zombie rabbit

3dt: How do you like to unwind after a hard day's (or night's) work?
JLM: I like to go out with my girl and with friends; I often go to the cinema and watch a lot of movies and series at home.

3dt: What can we expect to see from you next?
JLM: Currently, as personal projects, I'm working on some challenges (including The Game Challenge) during my spare time, and some projects I still can't show, but I will. I'll post them when possible. I'm also working on new models for the Sephie Doll Shop that will be released soon.

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Corfos - First Prize at Creatures vs Humanoids contest

Related links:

Visit Juan Luis Mayén's website
Check out the dolls in the Sephie Doll Shop
Get your hands on a copy of Sketching from the Imagination: Fantasy
 
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